Rav Avigdor Miller on The Success of a Sword on Your Neck

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Q:
It says in the Gemara (Brachos 10a) that a person should never give up hope and should never stop  asking Hashem for mercy, even if a sharp sword is already on his neck. So my question is: “Why is Hashem putting the sharp sword on this person’s neck in the first place? 

A:
And the answer is that Hashem puts the sword on his neck so that he should ask for רחמים, so that he should ask Hashem for mercy. The biggest achievement of life is not living itself. No. The biggest achievement of our lives is emunah – to believe in Hashem and to become more and more aware of Him.

So if a man has a sharp sword on his neck, and so now he cries out to Hashem, that’s a success. That’s his success! Whatever happens subsequently is not important! Just to live, just to continue living, without purpose is unimportant. What’s important is the calling out to Hashem.

There’s great success in thinking, “I’m calling out to Hashem!” Awareness of Hashem – that’s the success of a person, and that’s why Hakodosh Boruch Hu causes things to happen. Illness come upon people for the purpose of stimulating them to call out to Hashem. Now if they heal, they’re very happy. But that’s not the success. The success was that they cried out to Hashem. That’s the real success.